In Re Applications by SOUTHERN BROADCASTING CO. ASSIGNOR AND ROY H. PARK BROADCASTING OF BIRMINGHAM, INC., ASSIGNEE For Transfer of Control of Station WBMG-TV, Birmingham, Ala., and
Assignment of License of Station WBMG-TV From Birmingham
Television Corp. to Roy H. Park Broadcasting of Birmingham, Inc.
BTC-7128 and BALCT-518
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
41 F.C.C.2d 787
RELEASE-NUMBER: FCC 73-649
JUNE 13, 1973
[*787] BIRMINGHAM TELEVISION CORP., 2075 Golden Crest Drive, Birmingham, Ala. 35209 Roy H. PARK BROADCASTING OF BIRMINGHAM, INC., c/o JOHN B. BABCOCK, Terrace Hill, Ithaca, N.Y. 14850
DEAR SIRS: This concerns the application for transfer of control of Birmingham Television Corporation, licensee of Station WBMG-TV, Birmingham, Alabama from Southern Broadcasting Company (32.67%), William P. Dubois (26.4%), et al. to Roy H. Park Broadcasting of Birmingham, Inc. (BTC-7128) and the pro forma application for the assignment of the license and assets of Station WBMG-TV from Birmingham Television Corporation to Roy H. Park Broadcasting of Birmingham, Inc. (BALCT-518).
Roy H. Park, through his ownership of Park Broadcasting, Inc. (Delaware), owns all the stock of Roy H. Park Broadcasting of Birmingham, Inc. Park Broadcasting, Inc. also owns all the stock of Roy H. Park Broadcasting of Virginia, Inc., the licensee of Stations WTVR-AM-FM-TV, Richmond, Virginia. On September 1, 1972 the Black Broadcasting Coalition, of Richmond, filed a Petition to Deny the renewal of these stations. This group also filed a "Petition to Prevent Continued Violation of Commission's Equal Employment Opportunities Rules", in which it raises a complaint against the operation of Stations WTVR-AM-FM-TV. These petitions, which make several serious allegations, are currently under Commission review. In light of these unresolved questions, the above mentioned applications have this day been granted subject to whatever action the Commission may deem appropriate following resolution of these matters.
Chairman Burch not participating; Commissioner Johnson dissenting and issuing a statement; Commissioner H. Rex Lee absent; [*788] Commissioner Hooks concurring in part and dissenting in part and issuing a statement.
BY DIRECTION OF THE COMMISSION, BEN F, WAPLE, Secretary.
CONCURBY: HOOKS (IN PART)
DISSENTBY: HOOKS (IN PART); JOHNSON
SEPARATE STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER BENJAMIN L. HOOKS CONCURRING IN PART; DISSENTING IN PART
While recognizing that the Commission's approval of this assignment of WBMG-TV, Birmingham, Alabama from Birmingham Television Corporation to Roy H. Park Broadcasting -- at a time when Park's Richmond, Virginia stations (WTVR-AM-FM-TV) are attacked in an outstanding Petition to Deny based on alleged Equal Opportunity Employment violations -- is subject to the resolution of that proceeding, I dissent on a narrow but important ground.
I understand that it is the Commission's normal practice to defer action on or set for hearing applications affecting licenses (e.g., new stations renewals, assignments and transfers) when a current or prospective licensee is accused or suspected of activities sufficiently serious to be deemed as reflective of the "character" of the subject. n1 In order to be considered grave enough to bear directly on character, the barometer used (although not consistently) is the measure of terpitude involved in the offense. Hence, while technical violations of our engineering or logging rules are not generally deemed "character"-related, violations such as fraud, lotteries, and anti-trust are customarily viewed as serious enough to freeze Commission action on the matter instantly before it. n2
n1 See, United Television Co., Inc., et al., 40 F.C.C. 2d 472 (1973).
n2 Compare, ABC-ITT Merger, 4 F.C.C. 2d 709 (1966).
Today the Commission approved the voluntary transfer of WBMG-TV, Birmingham, Alabama, from the Birmingham Television Corporation to Roy H. Park Broadcasting of Birmingham, Inc.
The transferors sought this action in order to bring themselves into full compliance with the Commission's one-to-a-market rule, Section 73.636 of the Commission's rules.
The recipient of WBMG-TV's license, Roy H. Park, already has other substantial broadcast interests:
WMCT-AM-FM-TV, Greenville, North Carolina
WSLS-TV, Roanoke, Virginia
WVTR-TV, Utica, New York
WTVR-AM-FM-TV, Richmond, Virginia
WJHL-TV, Johnson City, Tennessee
WDEF-AM-FM-TV, Chattanooga, Tennessee
WNAY, Yankton, South Dakota
KRSI-AM-FM, St. Louis Park, Minnesota
WEBC, Duluth, Minnesota
KWJJ, Portland, Oregon
The assignment, therefore, of WBMG-TV to Roy H. Park Broadcasting brings Mr. Park's broadcast properties to a total of eighteen -- twelve of which are in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama, along with a newspaper in Georgia.
The Commission presently has in its files a complaint relating to WDEF and WDEF-TV, Chattanooga, Tennessee. The allegation is that these stations are engaged in unfair promotion of the business interests of the complainant's competitor. The Complaints and Compliance Division of the FCC is currently investigating this allegation.
In addition, the license renewals for stations WNCT, Greenville, North Carolina and WTVR-AM-FM-TV, Richmond, Virginia, have been deferred because of inquiries concerning their Equal Employment Opportunity Programs. The Black Broadcasting Coalition of Richmond has petitioned to deny the WTVR-AM-FM-TV renewals citing the stations in a "Petition to Prevent Continued Violation of Commission's Equal Employment Opportunity Rules." In this petition the coalition has alleged that none of the station's 81 employees are black. In the Petition to Deny, the Coalition has alleged: (1) failure to ascertain the community needs; (2) failure to propose responsive programming; and, (3) a poor minority employment record.
According to the 1970 Census, Birmingham, Alabama had a total population of 300,910 of whom 126,388 were blacks. Roy H. Park Broadcasting proposes to operate WBMG-TV with a staff of 36 and a "satisfactory Equal Employment Opportunity Program."
The assignment of this license to Roy H. Park Broadcasting gives Mr. Park his second UHF operation and his seventh television station. [*789] He owns, as well, seven AM and four FM stations. Mr. Park, with his wife, also owns the Warner Robbins, Georgia Daily Sun newspaper.
Faced with this rather devastating record, the Broadcasting Bureau blithely finds neither undue concentration of mass media nor merit to the business and employment practices complaints. The majority, with straight face, puts its "public interest" imprimatur upon this transaction without thought of further inquiry or hearing.